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  • Hollister, California, a place in the United States
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  • Hollister Ranch, a ranch north of Santa Barbara, California, USA.
  • Hollister Incorporated, a medical device company.
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Hollister can refer to:. Joachim Meyer's fechtbuch[2] - and disparities in weight have been greatly exaggerated; both longswords and katanas typically weighed between 1.0 and 1.5 kilograms (2-3 pounds). Hollister Ranch Realty, Hollister Ranch sales. Styles that relied on a single longsword for both offense and defense were well known - see e.g. Hollister Incorporated, a medical device company. At the same time, many European sword types from the very beginning of the history of the sword, through the medieval period and the renaissance to the 20th century were designed for the same combat modes as Japanese ones, fighting against lightly-armored or unarmored infantry. Hollister Ranch, a ranch north of Santa Barbara, California, USA. Attempting to establish the superiority of the one weapon over the other is ultimately meaningless without first defining the circumstances in which they are to be compared.

Hollister Co., a clothing company. In this light, the different characteristics of certain European swords are due less to the limitations of their makers than to the requirements of their use. Hollister, California, a place in the United States. Katana are capable of damaging armor to a degree and even today Shinkendo masters perform the ancient helmet cutting ceremony. The katana's sharpness makes it an excellent cutting weapon. Some European swords were also designed for different modes of combat.

Where Europeans had the choice between expensive good swords and cheap bad swords, Japanese had the choice between expensive swords, somewhat less expensive swords, or none at all. However, the greater availability of iron made it practical to produce cheap, low-quality weapons in large quantities. Europe also had superlative swordsmiths; Toledo steel swords from Spain are one example of legendary quality swords from outside Japan. Because Japan was an iron-poor society, making a sword was an inherently expensive undertaking; the supply of swords was limited, and so it was in the smiths' interest to make the most of the materials they could afford.

However, these claims are largely based on misunderstandings about the manufacture and role of European swords, and comparing the schools on their worst examples instead of their best. This belief is frequently bolstered by roleplaying games that assign superior statistics to katanas, and also by many movies. It is a commonly-encountered article of faith that katanas are intrinsically superior to European swords. In Robert Jordan's fantasy series, The Wheel of Time, the lead character, Rand al'Thor, weilds a sword called "Callandor" which fits the description of a katana, albeit a magical one.

Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is also referred to as the Master of the Twin Katanas, though his swords are straight-edged and not true katana. The lightsaber is an example of such a weapon. In some cases, writers make a new weapon based on ideas from katana, as a signature weapon of heroes and villains. In many works, especially when magical or supernatural powers are significant story elements, katana are more than a match for any other weapons.

With this law in mind, katana are sometimes used for comic relief in anime and manga set in the present, although this is sometimes replaced by the use of a bokken having surprisingly comparable capabilities. For instance, some stories state that carrying weapons has been permitted due to a serious increase in crimes or an invasion of monsters from other dimensions. Carrying a non-sealed katana is illegal in present-day Japan, but in fiction this law is often ignored or circumvented to allow characters to carry katana as a matter of artistic licence. It is the prime weapon of choice for Japanese heroes in historical fiction set before the Meiji period.

Three well-known appearances in Western culture are the Bride's signature weapon in Kill Bill (which was strongly influenced by Japanese samurai movies) and the katana used by the main character Connor MacLeod in The Highlander and the 1975 Tom Laughlin action/cult Western film Master Gunfighter. It is frequently used not only in Japanese settings, but also in other settings, often by non-Japanese creators; this popularity can be attributed partly to its status as an easily recognisable icon of Japan and partly to its high reputation as a formidable weapon in skilled hands. The katana appears in various works of fiction, including film, anime, manga, other forms of literature, and computer games. The technique of folding steel came from China, and contact with the mainland would affect how the katana evolved through the centuries.

A common misconception is that Katanas magically sprung into existence in Japan, utterly isolated from the mainland. Along with the Jewel and the Mirror, it was one of the three godly treasures of Japan. Kusanagi (probably a tsurugi, a type of bronze Age sword which precedes the katana by centuries) is the most famous legendary sword in Japanese mythology, involved in several folk stories. A popular legend tells of what happens when two swords made by Muramasa and Masamune were held in a stream carrying fallen leaves: while those leaves touching the Muramasa blade were cut in two, those coming towards the Masamune suddenly changed course and went around the blade without touching it.

Those made by Muramasa had a reputation for violence and bloodshed, while those made by Masamune were considered weapons of peace. Some swords were reputed to reflect their creators' personalities. Furthermore, while heating and folding serves to even out the distribution of carbon throughout the blade, a small amount of carbon is also 'burnt out' of the steel in this process; repeated folding will eventually remove most of the carbon, turning the material into softer iron and reducing its ability to hold a sharp edge. With each fold made by the maker, every internal layer is also folded, and so the total number of layers in a sword blade is doubled at each fold; since the thickness of a katana blade is less than 230 iron atoms, going beyond 20 folds no longer adds meaningfully to the number of layers in the blade.

While blades folded hundreds, thousands, or even millions of times are encountered in fiction, there is no record of real blades being folded more than around 20 times. Many myths surround Japanese swords, the most frequent being that the blades are folded an immense number of times, gaining magical properties in the meantime. However, during the Edo period Samurai went about unarmored and armed with daisho, in which case it would be the first weapon to be used. The sword was mostly considered as the weapon of last resort on the battlefield though, being used only after the bow, or spear was no longer feasible.

As armor and enemies changed over time, the shapes of blades changed from heavier profiles to lighter profiles, with different intentions for use in fighting. This is a katana with a shortened length and handle, intended for one-handed fighting only. At the same time, footmen may accompany a horseman and be armed with shorter katate-uchi at their side. In certain eras, the sword becomes longer and is intended for use from horseback.

Considering the broader case of Japanese swords, rather than the specific case of the shinto katana, technique varies over time depending on the style of fighting prevalent in military operations of the time. Testing of swords, called tameshigiri, was practiced on a variety of materials (including people) to test the sword's sharpness and also practice cutting technique. However, it is often used single-handed as well. The hilt of the katana is held two-handed with a small gap between the hands, generally as large as the grip permits, allowing for more leverage to be applied when cutting and more maneuverability when parrying another weapon.

The katana is primarily a cutting weapon, rather than a stabbing one. Other types of mounting include the kyu-gunto, shin-gunto, and kai-gunto types for the twentieth-century military, but these swords were generally mass-produced and highly inferior, and few true Japanese swords are mounted in these styles. The other sheath is the more decorative or battle-worthy sheath which is usually called either a jindachi-zukuri or a buke-zukuri, depending on whether it was supposed to be suspended from the obi(belt) by straps when the sword is mounted in Tachi-Koshirae or thrust through the obi if mounted as katana-koshirae, respectively. One is the shira-saya, which is generally made of wood and considered the 'resting' sheath, used as a storage sheath.

There are two types of sheaths, both of which require the same exacting work. The sheaths themselves are not an easy task. To anchor the blade securely into the sheath it will soon have, the blade acquires a collar, or habaki, which extends an inch or so past the cross guard and keeps the blade from rattling. This anchors the blade securely into the hilt.

A bamboo peg called a mekugi is slipped through the tsuka and through the tang of the blade, using the hole called a mekugiana drilled in it. There is a pommel at the base known as a kashira, and there is often a decoration under the criss-crossed wrappings called a menuki. (see related article on Koshirae). The cross guard, or tsuba, on Japanese swords (except for certain twentieth century sabers which emulate Western navies') is small and round, made of metal, and often very ornate.

The obvious part of the hilt consists of a metal or wooden grip called a tsuka, which can also be used to refer to the entire hilt. Hilts vary in their exact nature depending on the era, but generally consist of the same general idea, with the variation being in the components used and in the wrapping style. From here, the blade is passed on to a hilt-maker. This is because it displays either nioi, which is a mix of extremely fine martensite with troostite (another type of tempered steel), or the more crystalline and obvious nie, which contains a lot of less fine martensite.

A good polishing reveals what speed the edge was cooled at, from what temperature, and what the carbon content of the steel is. Hamon vary from straight to wavy to shaped like crabs or zigzags, and in their wandering they reveal important facts about the blade itself. The hamon, which is determined primarily by how the clay is applied, is often used as a kind of signature of the smith, above and beyond his own signature, and each tradition of swordsmiths often has a particular style of hamon it prefers over all others. Each blade is distinct in its hamon and the grain (hada) of its steel.

One of the ways which blades can be judged is by what this polishing reveals: the crystal-like qualities of the blade become quite visible, and the hamon (incorrectly known in English as the temper line, where the sharp edge fades into the normal steel of the blade) shows the unique nature of the sword. More importantly, an unschooled polish can permanently ruin the blade geometry or wear the steel down to its core steel, both of which effectively destroy the sword's monetary, historic, artistic, and functional value. It almost always takes longer than actually crafting the blade does, and a good polishing makes a blade look better, while a bad polishing makes the best of blades look like gunto. Early polishers used three types of stone, whereas a modern polisher generally uses seven.

This takes hours for every inch of blade, and is painstaking work with different kinds of very fine stone. When the rough blade was completed, the swordsmith would turn the blade over to a polisher called a togishi, whose job it was to polish the steel of the blade to a glittering shine and sharpen the edge for battle. Contrary to popular belief, these grooves have nothing to do with improving the flow of enemy blood. Grooves come in wide (bo-hi), twin narrow (futasuji-hi), twin wide and narrow (bo-hi ni tsure-hi), short (koshi-hi), twin short (gomabushi), twin long with joined tips (shobu-hi), twin long with irregular breaks (kuichigai-hi), and halberd-style (naginata-hi).

Some are more practical, grooves for lightening and extra flex (as well as an intimidating sound, called tachikaze, when swung with force). Some other marks on the blade are aesthetic: signatures and dedications written in kanji and engravings depicting gods, dragons, or other 'acceptable' beings, called horimono. It is this pressure fit for the most part that holds the tsuka in place during the strike, while the mekugi pin serves as a secondary method and a safety. While ornamental, these file marks also serve the purpose of providing an uneven surface which bites well into the 'tsuka', or the hilt which fits over it and is made from wood.

This is called sensuki. Lastly, if the blade is very old, it may have been shaved instead of filed. A grid of marks, from raking the file diagonally both ways across the tang, is called higaki, whereas specialized 'full dress' file marks are called kesho-yasuri. A number of different types of file markings are used, including horizontal, slanted, and checked, known as ichi-monji, kosuji-chigai, suji-chigai, o-suji-chigai, katte-agari, shinogi-kiri-suji-chigai, taka-no-ha, and gyaku-taka-no-ha.

The purpose is to show how well the blade steel ages. The tang is never supposed to be cleaned: doing this can cut the value of the sword in half or more. These are cut into the tang, or the hilt-section of the blade, where they will be covered by a hilt later. One of the most important markings on the sword is performed here: the file markings.

Once the blade is cool, and the mud is scraped off, the blade has designs and grooves cut into it. Almost all blades are decorated, although not all blades are decorated on the visible part of the blade. Also, The swordsmith signature (mei) is placed on the nagako. To remove the Tsuka you must remove the mekugi.

Thus restricting the blade from slipping out. It is used to anchor the blade using a mekugi, a small bamboo pin that is inserted into another cavity in the Tsuka and through the mekugi-ana. A hole is drilled into the tang (nagako), called a mekugi-ana. Kissaki are have a curved profile, and smooth three-dimensional curvature across their surface towards the edge - though they are bounded by a straight line called the yokote and have crisp definition at all their edges.

Such western knife blades feature a straight, linearly-sloped point whose sole advantage is being easy to grind and which only bears a superficial similarity to traditional Japanese kissaki. It is important to point out that the kissaki (point) is not a "chisel-like" point, nor is the Western knife interpretation of a "tanto point" at all correct or Japanese. In addition, whether the front edge of the tip is more curved (fukura-tsuku) or (relatively) straight (fukura-kareru) is also important. The sword also has an exact tip shape, which is considered an extremely important characteristic: the tip can be long (ô-kissaki), medium (chû-kissaki), short (ko-kissaki), or even hooked backwards (ikuri-ô-kissaki).

The shinogi can be placed near the back of the blade for a longer, sharper, more fragile tip or a more moderate shinogi near the center of the blade. A flat or narrowing shinogi is called 'shinogi-hikushi', whereas a 'fat' blade is called a 'shinogi-takushi'. However, swords could narrow down to the shinogi, then narrow further to the blade, or even expand outward towards the shinogi then shrink to the blade (producing a trapezoidal shape). In the earlier picture, the examples were flat to the shinogi, then tapering to the blade.

The most prominent is the middle ridge, or 'shinogi'. Each blade has a unique profile, depending on the smith, the construction method, and a bit of luck. To make han-sanmai-awase-gitae or shiho-zume-gitae, pieces of hard steel are then added to the outside of the blade in a similar fashion. By the end of the process, the two pieces of steel are fused together, but retain their differences in hardness.

When both sections have been folded adequately, they are bent into a 'U' shape and the softer piece is inserted into the harder piece, at which point they are hammered out into a long blade shape. The 'makuri-gitae' is made using two steels, one folded more times than the other, or of a lesser carbon content. The last generally accepted model, the 'shiho-zume-gitae', is quite rare, but added a rear support. The vast majority of 'good' katana and wakazashi are of 'wariba-gitae' type, but the more complex models allow for parrying without fear of damaging the side of the blade.

Examples are shown below:. Eventually the Japanese began to experiment with using different types of steel in different parts of the sword. When the application is finished, the sword is quenched and hardens correctly. A thicker layer of mud on the rest of the blade causes slower cooling, and softer steel, giving the blade the flex it needs (this makes the rear and inside of the sword into pearlite).

A thin layer on the edge of the sword ensures quick cooling, but not so fast as to crack the sword steel (this makes the actual edge of the sword extremely hard martensite). To control the cooling, the sword is heated and painted with layers of sticky clay. Slower, from a lower temperature, and it becomes pearlite, which has significantly more flex but doesn’t hold an edge. If steel cools quickly, from a hot temperature, it becomes martensite, which is very hard but brittle.

Steel’s exact flex and strength vary dramatically with heat variation, and depending on how hot it gets and how fast it cools, the steel has vastly different properties. When finished, the steel is not quenched or tempered in the conventional European fashion. This means that the rear of the sword can be used to reinforce the edge, and the Japanese took full advantage of this fact. One of the core philosophies of the Japanese sword is that it has a single edge.

Bizen tradition, which specialized in mokume, and some schools of Yamato tradition were also considered strong warrior's weapons. The blades that were considered the most robust, reliable, and of highest quality were those made in the Mino tradition, esepically those of Magoroku Kanemoto. The difference between the three normal grain types (masame-, itame-, and mokume-hada) is one of cutting a tree perpendicular to its direction of growth (mokume) at an angle (itame) or along the grain (masame), the angle causing the "stretched" pattern. Straight grains were called 'masame-hada', wood-like grain "itame," wood-burl grain "mokume," and concentric wavy grain (an uncommon feature seen almost esclusively in the Gassan school) 'ayasugi-hada'.

Generally, swords were created with the grain of the blade (called 'hada') running down the blade like the grain on a plank of wood. Thus, the best results were usually obtained at 8-10 folds. Even before this point, more layers does not equal a better sword; though folding does burn off impurities and homogenize the blade, a very even and clean composition is obtained early in the process, and control of carbon content has a much greater effect on the blade's functionality. Beyond this number, the molecular structure of the blade is such that further folding would most likely serve no further purpose.

It should be noted that a blade folded 12 times will have more than 4,000 'layers' underneath the initial blade to begin with, and that 20 folds would produce a blade with over a million layers. The number of folds varied from sword to sword, but those with more than about a dozen folds are uncommon, and authentic swords with more than two dozen folds are completely unknown. Contrary to popular belief, continued folding will not create a "super-strong" blade; once impurities are burnt off and the carbon content homogenized, further folding offers little benefit and will gradually burn out the carbon, leading eventually to a softer steel less able to hold an edge. This did several things:.

Steel was repeatedly 'folded', bent over itself and hammered flat. The most famous part of the manufacturing process was the folding of the steel. Often, there were sheath, hilt, and tsuba (handguard) specialists as well. There was a smith to forge the rough shape, often a second smith (apprentice) to fold the metal, a specialist polisher, and even a specialist for the edge itself.

As with many complex endeavors, rather than a single craftsman, several artists were involved.
The forging of a Japanese blade typically took hours or days, and was considered a sacred art. The high percentage of carbon gave the blade strength while the silicon increased the flexibility of the blade as well as its ability to withstand stress. One more modern formula (from World War II):.

The total composition varied from smith to smith and lode to lode of ore. Traditional Japanese steel is popularly considered to be one of the best for creating swords, but the true reasons for this are artistic and not functional - contemporary western steels were and most modern steels are actually superior in strength and purity. Manufacturing processes are described in greater detail in following subsections. Most of the "type 98 katana's" from World War II do not exist today, as well as the older versions.

Modern katana and wakizashi are only made by the few licenced practitioners that still practice making these crafted weapons today. Japanese swords are fairly uncommon today, but not so rare that genuine antiques cannot be acquired - from reliable sources at significant expense, of course. "True" daisho, containing a pair of blades that were made as a pair, mounted as a pair, and owned/worn as a pair, are therefore uncommon and considered highly valuable - especially if they still retain their original mountings (as opposed to later mountings, even if the later mounts are made as a pair). Even when a daisho contained a pair of blades by the same smith, they were not always forged as a pair or mounted as one.

If a samurai was able to afford a daisho, it was often composed of whichever two swords could be conveniently acquired, sometimes by different smiths and in different styles. On a related note, the daisho (pair of swords) was not always forged together. Wakizashi were also not simply a 'scaled down' katana, they were often forged in hira-zukuri or other such forms, which were very rare on katana. They were often forged with different profiles, different blade thicknesses, and varying amounts of niku.

While some people believe that katana and wakizashi were constructed alike, this was not always the case. This process also makes the edge of the blade contract less than the back when cooling down, something that aids the smith in establishing the curvature of the blade. This produces a blade with a hard edge and soft back, allowing it to be resilient and yet retain a good cutting edge. The back of the sword is coated with clay, insulating it and so causing it to cool slower than the edge when the blade is quenched.

The distinctive curvature of the katana is partly due to a process of differential quenching. In order to counter this, and to homogenize the carbon content of the blades (giving some blades characteristic folding patterns), the folding was developed (for comparison see pattern welding), and found to be quite effective, though labour intensive. This practice became popular from use of highly impure metals, stemming from the low temperature yielded in the smelting at that time and place. Japanese swords and other edged weapons are manufactured by the Chinese method of repeatedly heating, folding and hammering the metal.

217.) These traditions and provinces are as follows:. (Source: The connoisseur's guide to Japanese swords, by Kokan Nagayama, p. Japanese swords can be traced back to one of several provinces, each of which had its own school, traditions and 'trademarks' - e.g., the swords from Mino province were "from the start famous for their sharpness". They were most commonly made in the Buke-Zukuri mounting.

The most common reference to a chisakatana is a shorter katana that does not have a companion blade. Chisa-katana were not common weapons since usually a katana was made for a shorter person or a wakizashi for a larger person. However, a chisa-katana is longer than the wakizashi, which was between one and two shaku in length. A katana was longer than two shaku in length (one shaku= about 11.93 inches).

A chisa-katana is simply a shorter katana. For more precise measurement, "sun", "bu", and "rin" (one-tenth, one-hundredth, and one-thousandth of a shaku respectively) may be used. Japanese swords are measured in units of shaku (1 shaku = approximately 30.3 centimeters or 11.93 inches; from 1891 the shaku has been defined as exactly 10/33 metres, but older data may vary slightly from this value). What generally differentiates the different swords is their length.

All Japanese swords are manufactured according to this method and are somewhat similar in appearance. [1] However it is likely that most of these katana are sword like objects, as a basic, properly constructed katana is comparative in price to an inexpensive handgun. Some katana have been used in modern-day armed robberies. With the efforts of other like minded individuals, the katana has arisen from its darkest day and many swordsmiths have continued the work begun by Munetsugu, re-discovering the old techniques and making the art swords produced by today's best smiths as good as many of the blades of old.

Homma went on to be a founding figure of the Nihon Bijitsu Hozon Token Kai, the 'Society for the Preservation of Art Swords', who made it their mission to preserve the old techniques and blades. A few smiths did continue their trade, and Dr. Swordsmiths had been increasingly turning to producing civilian goods after the Edo period but this disarmament and subsequent regulations almost put an end to the production of katana. The vast majority of these 1,000,000 or more swords were gunto, but there were still a sizable number of koto, shinto and shin-shinto.

Due to this disarmament, as of 1958 there were more Japanese swords in America than in Japan: American soldiers would return from the Orient with piles of swords, often as many as they could carry. Others remained stashed away. Some were simply stolen. Even so, many katana were sold to American soldiers who had money to spend at a bargain price.

As a result of this meeting, the general ban was amended so that the weapon grade gunto would be destroyed and swords of artistic merit could be owned and preserved. Homma produced blades from the various periods of Japanese history and General MacArthur was a quick student, being able to identify very quickly what blades held artistic merit and which could be considered purely weapons. During their meeting, Dr. Homma Junji to General Douglas MacArthur.

This ban would be later overturned through the personal appeal of Dr. Under the United States occupation at the end of World War II all armed forces were disbanded and, except under several permits issued by police and municipal government, production of katana with edges was banned. In 1934 the Japanese government issued a military specification for the shin gunto "new army sword" the first version of which was referred to as a "Type 94 katana", and many machine- and handcrafted swords used in World War II conformed to this and later shin gunto specifications. The students of Gassan Sadakatsu went on to be designated Intangible Cultural Assets, or more commonly known as Living National Treasures, as they embodied knowledge that was considered to be fundamentally important to the Japanese identity.

These smiths, Gassan Sadakazu and Gassan Sadakatsu were kept busy producing fine works that stand with the best of the older blades for the Emperor and other high ranking officials. Though this was a dark time for the katana, the craft was kept alive through the efforts of a few individuals, and notably the Gassan line of smiths who were employed as Imperial Artisans. At the same time, Kendo was incorporated into police training so that police officers would have at least the minimal training necessary to properly use one. Katana remained in use in some occupations, police sometimes using katana not only to catch criminals but to defend themselves from criminals who could be armed with katana as well.

These swords, known as 'gunto', are often very low in quality with many being oil tempered or simply stamped out of steel and given a serial number rather than a chiselled signature. In time, the need to arm soldiers with swords was perceived again and over the decades at the beginning of the 20th century swordsmiths again found work. Overnight, the market for swords died, and many swordsmiths were left without a trade to pursue, and valuable skills were lost. Possession itself was not prohibited, so many katana were simply stashed away.

The Haitorei edict in 1876 all but banned carrying swords and guns on streets, making samurai less distinguishable from commoners. Japan remained in stasis until Matthew Perry's arrival in 1853 and the subsequent Convention of Kanagawa forcibly reintroduced Japan to the outside world; the rapid modernization of the Meiji Restoration soon followed. With the discarding of the Shinto style, and the re-introduction of old and rediscovered techniques, the swords of this time were now called 'shinshinto' meaning 'new-new swords.'. Munetsugu travelled the land teaching what he knew to all who would listen, and swordsmiths rallied to his cause and ushered in a second renaissance in Japanese sword smithing.

Munetsugu published opinions that the arts and techniques of the shinto swords were inferior to the koto blades, and that research should be made by all swordsmiths in the land to rediscover the lost techniques. Towards the end of this period, swordmaking had fallen to another low, and due to the efforts of the master swordsmith Munetsugu at the turn of the 19th century, artistic merit once again returned to the craft. By the middle of the eighteenth century, most young Japanese had never seen a gun, let alone actually seen one fired. Under the isolationist Tokugawa Shogunate, guns and gunpowder were increasingly restricted and removed from circulation.

It is often considered that the more complex work found on many shinto swords then is a corruption, where form no longer strictly follows function and thereby no longer achieves a pure form of beauty. The addition of these engravings known as 'horimono' were originally for religious reasons, and were simple and tasteful. As the Edo period progressed, there came a decline in quality once again, for a variety of reasons, including the evolution of the samurai class into bureaucrats and policemen; other related arts did move forward from time to time, leading to beautiful engravings and decorations for weapons. As the techniques of the ancient smiths had been lost during the previous period of war, these swords were called shinto, literally 'new swords.' This gave the obvious name to the older blades as koto, 'old swords.' The blades that predated the curved blades introduced around 987AD were referred to as 'jokoto' or ancient swords.

In times of peace, swordsmiths had time and the inclination to return to the making of refined and artistic blades, and the beginning of the Momoyama period saw the return of high quality creations. Other Japanese scholars had also highlighted that certain Japanese swordsmiths of this period, began to make blades with thicker backs and bigger points, as a counter-response to the Mongol threat. Kokan Nagayama, in the book "The Connoiseur's Book of Japanese Swords", Kodansha International 1997, states on page 21 that the "Japanese warriors had never before encountered such an enemy (the Mongols), who was protected by leather armor and wielded a very stout sword -- clearly superior to theirs -- in a unique style of fighting." He added that certain Japanese swordsmiths started to adopt thinner and simpler temper lines due to their belief that " blades with wide temper lines reaching near to the ridge line look gorgeous, but tend to break." Unfortunately, Mr Nagayama did not quote the Japanese historical references that he derived his comments on the superiority of the Mongol (ie continental Chinese, Korean and other makes) sword over the Japanese sword. The famous failed invasion of Japan by the Mongols marked another point of evolution for the Japanese sword.

As time progressed, the craft decayed under the needs listed above, and the introduction of guns, as a decisive force on the battlefield. The (ultimately failed) rationale behind this was to attempt to soak up the production of Japanese weapons and make it harder for pirates in the area to arm. The export of katana reached its height during Muromachi period with the total of at least 200,000 katana being shipped to the Ming dynasty in official trades. Furthermore, the ferocity of the fighting caused the highly artistic techniques of the Kamakura period (known as the Golden Age of Swordmaking) to be abandoned in favor of more utilitarian and disposable weapons.

While many good swords were made during this period, the vast need for swords caused smiths to switch to production line methods. During the Muromachi period, bloody wars were the norm, but the indolent shogunates also put a high value on art and culture, so the islands did not descend into barbarism. The War of Onin (1467-1477) revolutionized Japanese armour. For five centuries, Japan had its own dark ages, marked by continuous, brutal wars.

By the twelfth century, civil war erupted after a long period of decadence. In the same period, the Kyō-hachiryū (京八流) was created in the Kurama mountain (in Kyoto). From the Kashima shrine's Kashima no Tachi sprang the Kantō-nanaryū (関東七流 - also known as the Kashima-nanaryū 鹿島七流). This is also reflected in the styles of kenjutsu created during this period.

Among other modifications, the katana becomes single-edged, and better suited for slashing. According to legend, the Japanese sword was invented by a smith named 'Amakuni' in AD 700, along with the folded steel process. The Ainu people used Warabite-tou(蕨手刀) Warabite sword and this sword influenced the Katana. In the Heian Period (8th to 11th centuries) we see the development of sword-making, through techniques brought from the Russia and North part of Japan Hokkaido in those days Ainu's territory.

The style, called Kashima no Tachi (鹿島の太刀), was created at the Kashima Shrine (in Ibaraki Prefecture). One of the oldest known forms of kenjutsu dates the Kofun era (3rd and 4th centuries). Early swords were in the style of Chinese swords, straight and single or double-edged. At the same time, the Japanese learned the art of swordmaking from Chinese smiths.

In the 6th century BCE the legendary Emperor Jimmu conquered much of Japan. Swords are critical in most feudal societies, and Japan was no exception. The back end is soft, and so the sword is not brittle but flexible, while the front end is sharp and hard. This gives the sword its cutting edge and the strength.

The front end is made up of almost 3000 layers of metal forged precisely to give shape to blade. The back is thick and front end is razor sharp.
There is also another interesting fact about the Japanese sword. "with swords broken and without an arrow") used as a proverb.

To have fought till nothing but a surrender is possible, is defined as Ken ore, ya mo tsuki, (lit. Drawing the sword was like letting one's soul blaze free and usually meant that the samurai was down to the last straw. However, most samurai did not use their sword as a primary weapon; bow first, a spear next, and only then the sword. The Tachi on the other hand, had a stand, the tsuka was set in a groove at the base and the saya pointed upwards set in a notch at the top with the cutting edge down, again in the manner it was worn.

As for the host, his long-sword was generally stored above the wakizashi on a rack called a katana-kake, curving upwards; in the manner it was worn, with the omote side showing (tsuka or handle ponting left). Positioning his sword for an easy draw implied suspicion or aggression; thus, whether he placed it on his right or left side, and whether the blade was placed curving away or towards him, was an important point of etiquette. For example, a samurai entering someone's house might consider how to place his sheathed sword as he knelt. Elaborate methods for carrying, cleaning, storing, sharpening (or not sharpening), and wielding the sword evolved from era to era.

Much of early Japanese culture revolved around swords. They would be "soulless" in the eyes of a samurai. Ronin, needing money, would sometimes be forced to sell their swords, further adding to their highly dishonorable, sometimes vagabond status in Japanese society. For much of Japan's history, only samurai were even allowed to carry swords, and a peasant carrying a sword was enough reason to kill the peasant and take the sword after a prohibition was issued in early Edo period.

The Japanese pinned an extraordinary amount of value on the sword. Although spears have survived since as far back as the 8th century AD, it was not until the large scale wars of the Onin period towards the end of the fifteenth century that the straight bladed spear, the yari, vied with the sword for the most popular weapon. Although other weapons waxed and waned in popularity throughout history, the sword remained a constant. The sword was considered the soul of the samurai.

. Perhaps one of the more famous types of Japanese fencing was "Nitto Ryu" or the use of both the katana and wakizashi in tandem; a technique most famously used by Miyamoto Musashi, though the extensive popularization of this technique in anime, literature, and pop culture has strongly skewed modern perspective on its importance and prevalence. Old koryu sword schools do still exist (for example, Kashima Shinto-ryu, Kashima Shin-ryu, and Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu, among others). The art of drawing the katana and attacking one's enemies is iaido (also known as battōjutsu/battodo), and kendo is an art of fencing with a shinai (bamboo sword) protected by helmet and armour.

While the practical arts for using the sword for its original purpose are now somewhat obsolete, kenjutsu and iaijutsu have turned into gendai budo — modern martial arts for a modern time. It is traditionally worn edge up. Though it is intended for and was predominantly used with a two-handed grip, many extant historical Japanese sword arts include at least one or two single-handed techniques. It is primarily used for cutting, although its curvature is generally gentle enough to allow for effective thrusting as well.

Other aspects of the koshirae (mountings), such as the menuki (decorative grip swells), habaki (blade collar and scabbard wedge), fuchi and kashira (handle collar and cap), kozuka (small utility knife handle), kogai (decorative skewer-like implement), saya lacquer, and tsukamaki (professional handle wrap), received similar levels of artistry. (In fact, seppuku was a right reserved for samurai in order to preserve their honor by taking their own life should the need arise.) The scabbard for a katana is referred to as a saya, and the handguard piece, often intricately designed as individual works of art especially in later years of the Edo period, was called the tsuba. The long blade was used for open combat, while the shorter blade was considered a side arm, and also more suited for stabbing, close combat (such as indoors), and seppuku, a form of ritual suicide. The two weapons together were called the daisho, and represented the social power and personal honor of the samurai (buke retainers to the daimyo).

The weapon was typically paired with the wakizashi, a similarly made but shorter sword both worn by the members of the buke (bushi) warrior class, it could also be worn with the tanto, an even smaller similarly shaped blade. It refers to a specific type of curved, single-edged sword traditionally used by the Japanese samurai. While the word has no separate plural form in Japanese, it has been adopted as a loan word by the English language, where it is commonly pluralised as katanas. It is literally translated as 'knife,' and pronounced 'dao').

In Mandarin, it is pronounced dāo (this does not specifically refer to the katana. Katana (pronounced [ka-ta-na]) is the kun'yomi (Japanese reading) of the kanji 刀 ; the on'yomi (Chinese reading) is tō. The katana (刀) is the Japanese backsword or longsword (大刀 daitō) of the type specifically in use after the 1400s (following the use of the tachi), although many Japanese use this word generically as a catch-all word for sword. Ran "Aya" Fujimiya from Weiß Kreuz.

Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Ulrich Stern. Saigo Takamori. Saito Hajime.

Okita Soji. Sasaki Kojiro. Miyamoto Musashi. Iizasa Ienao.

Tsukahara Bokuden. Ashikaga Yoshiteru. Magoroku Kanemoto. Go Yoshihiro.

Etchu Norishige. Bizen Saburo Kunimune. Yamato Kaneuji. Yosozaemon Sukesada.

Gassan Sadakazu. Nagasone Kotetsu. Inoue Shinkai. Sengo Muramasa.

Soshu Sadamune. Soshu Masamune. Rai Kunimitsu. Rai Kunitoshi.

Munechika. Amakuni. It burned off many impurities, again helping to overcome the Japanese steel's poor quality and purify/strengthen the sword. (Bulat steel layering is an entirely different chemical effect, and does not apply to blades made in the Japanese fashion.).

Layers act as weld points which can only serve to weaken the integrity of the blade. Despite widespread popular belief that the layered structure provides enhanced mechanical properties of the steel, this is completely false. It created layers, by continuously decarburizing the surface and bringing the surface into the blade's interior, which gives the swords their unique and beautiful grain. It homogenized the metal, spreading the elements (such as carbon) evenly throughout - increasing the effective strength by decreasing the number of potential weak points.

It eliminated any bubbles in the metal. Older swords by honored makers would then be reserved for very special gifts, in particular to the Shogun and his family or from the Shogun to show very special merit. As such, the art of 'kantei' (the ability to judge a sword for period, maker, and quality) became important, as this allowed specialists to appraise a blade and so place its value. It became traditional that Daimyo and the Shogun, and the members of their families, would exchange gifts of swords when meeting together or for special occasions such as weddings and births.

It is considered that this angle of the sword was played up by those in power in order to replace land in the role of a gift of great honor. In older days, these gifts would be of land, but at the time of the Shogunate land was a scarce commodity. While there has always been reverence for the sword, the official line of it being the 'soul' comes from a need of the Shogunate to provide high value gifts to retainers and noblemen. The 'soul of the samurai' concept has its roots in the early Tokugawa Shogunate.

However, despite this, the sword was still considered the soul of the samurai, not the spear. Although largely overlooked in Western literature, spears were the first resort of any samurai and most peasants, and the blades on the samurai spears were often of extremely high quality. The two main types are 'naginata', similar to a halberd in use, and a 'yari' which is more traditionally spear like. Most of the various kinds of spears could come with blades made in the same style as the Japanese sword.

There are many varieties of wooden practice blades, including those made out of wood (bokken) and those made out of bamboo (often used for kendo practice, usually referred to as shinai). The signature almost always appears on the side facing away from the body when the blade is worn, so it is possible to discern the smith's intention for the blade in this manner. However, these are still katana if worn in modern 'buke-zukuri' style. Swords designed specifically to be tachi are generally koto rather than shinto, so they are generally better manufactured and more elaborately decorated.

'ōdachi' is also sometimes used as a synonym for katana. Abnormally long blades (longer than 3 shaku or 90cm), usually carried across the back, are called ōdachi or nodachi. If it is suspended by cords from a belt, it is called 'tachi' (average blade length of 75 cm) the tachi is worn cutting edge down. However, the term 'katana' is often misapplied: a sword is only a katana if it is worn blade-up through a belt-sash called an obi (these 'katana' averaged 65 cm in blade length).

This is the category 'katana' fall into. A blade longer than 2 shaku (61 cm) is considered a daito, or long sword. A blade longer than 1 shaku but less than 2 (30–61 cm) is considered a shoto (short sword) and included the wakizashi and kodachi. A blade shorter than 1 shaku (30 cm) is considered a tanto (knife).

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